By Joginder Tuteja Bollywood Hungama News Network
'Aladin has been delayed'. 'It has gone over-budget'. 'Change of producers hit the film hard'. Aladin may eventually not release even this summer' - These are a few battles that Aladin is fighting ever since the release date of 24th July was announced.
Though Aladin is not new to controversies, such rumours coming in around the time when it is in it's final lap en route to its theatrical release is hardly inviting for filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh. He gets into a free wheeling conversation with Joginder Tuteja and dispels all loose talk about his most ambitious film till date.
First things first - Is Aladin finally releasing on 24th July?
Yes. 24th is the day.
There were plans for release late last year. Then it got moved to summer 2009. It was the Ghajini factor, right?
Yes and no. A family film like Aladin can only be released during a holiday period. When you put in so much effort in making a film it is absolutely essential that it is presented to the audience at the right time. So I get two windows in a year - If not winter then summer and if not summer then winter. And yes, Ghajini was a factor which actually helped us tremendously. It was a boon in disguise. Gave me six more months to play with the film!
But then there are speculations in the industry that the film has seen a massive delay over a period of time.
It's natural. I don't blame them. Nobody has seen anything of Aladin. So it's quite normal to think that a film which has taken four years to make has been delayed. But the fact is that for a film like Aladin, it takes four years, if not more, to make.
Where did these four years go away?
I had to prepare for almost a year and half, because of which I got away with not single re-shoot or patchwork. And that is only possible if you do your homework thoroughly. See, a film like Aladin is more of a Maths exam unlike a Jhankaar Beats which is more of an English exam where you can afford to be creative on sets. These shoots are very mechanical and formulaic; you have to shoot 'exactly' what you have planned else it goes haywire - both schedule and budget wise! And then, you need a lot of time for post. So, four years is not that bad given I had no clue where to start with a film like this.
Even though the film has been in the making for four years, the principal shooting was wrapped up in quick time, right?
Yes. That was so cool. We managed to wrap in 145 days. And in a film like Aladin, you get only 2-3 hours of productive shoot time in a day. But that whole credit goes to my team. They are such a bunch of talented people. Fatafat sab kaam kar diya!
No reference points within Bollywood, for making a film of this scale and genre would have been in hindrance as well, isn't it?
In the beginning, yes! But I am a very fast learner.
You also had a change in hands of producers. Did that also contribute to the so called delay?
Nah, that was all right. I was still prepping and searching.
What had really gone wrong with the Sippys (the film was earlier supposed to be produced by Ramesh/Rohan Sippy)?
I guess we could not agree upon some issues. Hence, the best was to part ways.
How difficult was it to get another producer (Eros) with Sippys backing out?
Kishore (Lulla) always wanted to make Aladin, but, I, being an idiot never listened. For some reason, I just didn't listen. Then when the whole fiasco happened, I spoke to Kishore. He read the script, looked at the budget and agreed.
There have been questions raised around the budget of the film. Has Aladin actually gone overboard?
Not overboard. A little bit. May be 10-15%! But that could not be helped. They were matters beyond our control. But still we made a movie in perhaps 1/10th the cost of a similar Hollywood film without any compromise on quality. I guarantee you (and you can save this interview and beat me up later, if not true), you have not seen anything like this on Indian screens before. And I am so proud that we made the whole thing in India. In future, Hollywood should be asking India how to make cost effective films.